Friday, August 24, 2012

Secret Ingredient Gazpacho


1 can whole tomatoes in juice
about 3lb fresh tomatoes
1/2 medium onion
1 clove fresh garlic
1 large green jalapeno pepper, seeds & ribs removed
1 whole red pepper
2 cucumbers
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 green pepper
1/2 tsp roasted garlic chips
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp minced fresh tarragon
2 tsp minced fresh mint
1 T minced fresh thyme
3 T minced fresh parsley
1 tsp black pepper

some salt

1 T Secret Ingredient!*

This makes around a gallon of soup. In a blender, puree all the tomatoes, the onion, the jalapeno, the garlic, one of the cukes, and 1/2 of the red bell pepper, along with the spices & juice.

Mince the herbs by hand or they will turn onto green mush and discolor the soup. Dice the remaining cucumber and bell peppers, and stir everything together.

* This is where the secret ingredient comes in.

Add only about 2/3 the amount of salt you want, and then add either 1 tablespoon of thai fish sauce or 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce. If you use soy, it has to say it's dark soy sauce, or it won't be the right kind.

Since both dark soy and fish sauce are basically liquid salt, why not just use salt? Because even though tomatoes, garlic & onions taste delicious together, they do not have that special, mouth filling, savory taste unless they are cooked. By definition, gazpacho is not cooked. Even cheating a bit with a can of tomatoes doesn't quite do it. Therefore, you need something rotten, or at least, powerfully fermented. Either sauce will perfectly round out the flavor of the soup.

The difference between soy & fish is subtle; personally I like the soy better, except for the fact that it does change the color of the soup slightly. Fish sauce keeps the appearance of the gazpacho the same, but I think it's a little less fruity or something. It's your call. If you can't decide, you can do what I did and add about 1 drop of either secret ingredient to individual servings to perform a taste test before flavoring the whole batch.

I like to eat mine with avocado and a dab of yogurt, because why leave well enough alone?

Saturday, August 18, 2012



This thing is also called a German pancake, but it is more fun to say "Honey, do you want to eat a Dutch Baby for breakfast tomorrow?"

The recipe for the pancake is exactly the same as the one found here, (except that I always use salted butter) but there are a couple things I think are useful to know, namely that

1. It does make a big difference to use eggs & milk at room temperature. They poof much less when cold.

2. Make sure the oven is fully pre-heated, then make up the batter. It is too easy to get impatient and ravenous and put the batter in the oven before it's hot enough.

3. Freshly grated nutmeg & cinnamon.

4. Heat the skillet on the stove top, not in the oven. Otherwise you will get it smoking hot and the butter will scorch and it will not taste good.

5. NO PEEKING! If you open the oven even once, the thing will go all flat and never recover, but it will taste good anyway.

This recipe, cooked in a 10" frying pan is exactly the right amount of breakfast for 2 modestly sized, moderately hungry adults. I skipped the orange sugar recommended in the original recipe, and went with jam and greek yogurt on one piece and maple syrup and super-dark chocolate on the other. Break the chocolate into bites and poke them into the hot pancake to get melty before slopping on the syrup.

In the middle of the winter, I'm going to break down and cook one of these in bacon drippings.